Children will practice fine-motor skills as they make this special weaving

By Risa Young and Robin Smith

Materials:

  • yarn
  • branches, dried and fresh weeds, and any other objects you find outside, such as interesting sticks, seed pods, and so on
  • scissors

Developing Skills:

  • Children will use fine-motor and creative-thinking skills.

In Advance: Invite a group of children to help you find a large dead branch to use as a natural loom. Choose one that has many interesting smaller branches and, if possible, strong branches on two sides that form a Y-shape to form the edges of the loom. (You can also use two separate sticks, one for each end.)

ACTIVITY

Help children wrap the yarn back and forth around the branches so it makes a pattern of yarn for weaving in the natural materials. As children wrap the yarn, sing "In and Out the Branches" to the tune of "In and Out the Windows."

Take a group on a collection walk around your playground or neighborhood park. Encourage children to collect dried and fresh weeds, small sticks, seedpods, and so on. Explain that these will be used in your weaving to make the design interesting and beautiful.

Take your "treasures" back and create the rest of your design. Children can insert the objects they found into the wrapped yarn so that they remain in place. Provide assistance when necessary.

Display children's finished weavings as mobiles, or stand them in coffee cans filled with sand as woven sculpture displays.

Now take a nature walk outdoors with children. Have them look for patterns or "weavings" on the natural objects they find on their walk. For example, are there patterns on the acorn caps, leaves, weeds, blades of grass that they find? Can they see patterns on tree trunks? Using a magnifying glass once you return to the classroom, can children find patterns on flower petals or small rocks?

After a rain shower, have children investigate puddles on your outdoor play-space or in the neighborhood surrounding your school. Have them gently toss stones into the puddles. Can they see the patterns their stones make in the water? How can they change these patterns?

SPIN-OFF: On a warm day, go outside together and ask each child to take off one shoe or sock. Ask, "Have you ever tried to pick anything up with your toes? See if you can pick up some smooth stones, pebbles, or marbles." (Children are usually surprised to find out how difficult it is to do this. Yet the more they practice, the better they get. Best of all, it's silly and fun!)

BOOKS

Abuela's Weave by Omar S. Castaneda (Lee & Low Books, 1995; $8)

I See Animals Hiding* by Jim Arnosky (Scholastic, 2000; $4)

Weaving Wonders: Spiders in Your Backyard by Nancy Loewen